The Path to Stop feeling Powerless in your Parenting with Laura & Mike



Today you get a true behind the scenes look at what parenting a strong-willed child looks like at someone else's house.

Laura and Mike are full-time working parents with 3 kids living in Minneapolis.

Just a few months ago, they describe what parenting felt like - powerless, volatile, unpredictable. They felt lost, with no toolkit and no shared understanding.

After sharing the barriers they had to overcome to get support, they narrate what really stuck with them through the work that they did on themselves through their time inside Wholeheartedly CALM, my 3 month group coaching program.

They both describe the feeling of empowerment they found through a lot of self reflection and just how amazing it feels to get to enjoy their kids more again. Their kids enjoy being enjoyed as well!


  • The power of language - small tweaks have a huge impact on cooperation
  • Ways to take your power back as a parent, while empowering your child at the same time
  • The topic Laura + Mike truly appreciated having shame-free conversations about


  • It matters more what we do than what we say


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Laura  0:00  
They don't care what we say, especially if what we say and what we do are not aligned. They will always look at what we do over what we say, you know, hopefully some of the things that we say make an impact on them. But they're only really going to make an impact on them if they're aligned with how we show up in the world.

Danielle Bettmann  0:20  
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood, I mean. Have too much anxiety, not enough patience? Too much yelling, not enough play?  There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right, but this is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you, you feel like you're screwing everything up and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud - this podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann and each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real - sharing her insecurities, her fears, her failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough and you're not alone. I hope you pop in ear buds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here.

Danielle Bettmann  1:35  
Hey, it's Danielle. I'm so glad you're here. Welcome to Failing Motherhood. I am your Positive Discipline Certified Parenting Coach for parents of strong-willed kids, ages 2 to 10 and we get to go on a really, really fun ride. Today, I have a special treat for you. And it's been a while since we've had the opportunity to do one of these. Today's interview is with a client of mine, a family that graduated from my program a few months ago and you get to have a true behind the scenes take of what parenting a strong-willed child looks like at someone else's house. Today I have a conversation for you with Laura and Mike, two full time working parents that live in Minneapolis. They have 3 kids. A daughter, that's 8, a son who's 5 and a daughter who's 7 months old. They dive right in to our conversation sharing what parenting felt like and looked like just a few months ago. And the big buzzword was volatility, a lot of volatility, a lot of high volume, unpredictability, big emotions, just losing it on the daily, both parents and kids feeling very mismatched in their perspective of you know, mom and dad of being able to come into moments and read the room and read the situation having a shared kind of understanding. They both felt like they didn't have toolkits. They both felt like they were not experts in parenting and just feeling not only lost, but the word they used was powerless, feeling very powerless, when really they still had a lot of power and how powerless their kids might have felt at the same time, really just knowing what they were doing isn't working, and now they understand why. They share their barriers that they had to overcome to get support. Then you get to hear firsthand what really impacted them and stuck with them through the work that they did on themselves through their time inside Wholeheartedly CALM, my 3 month group coaching program, and the 3 pillars of that program are: communication, core needs and composure. You come out, feeling much more calm and confident, feeling like your kid's needs for control, belonging, love and connection are met and having a huge decrease in amount and intensity and frequency and duration of meltdowns overall.  So the things that we talked about in this episode, they talked a lot about the power of language, and how impactful it can be, that small tweaks make towards cooperation. They talked about the feeling of empowerment that they found through a lot of self reflection and kind of self criticism, and how powerful it felt to have shame free conversations around anger. They also shared just how amazing it feels to get to enjoy their kids more again, and how much their kids enjoy being enjoyed. Who doesn't, right? The big thing we kind of end on that I feel like is so important to reflect on and sit with is: it really does come down to that it matters way more what we do than what we say, as parents, and how our example, our modeling and our roles really just come down to kind of our way of being and how we're living our lives and how we're handling ourselves and how we're handling conflict and all that. So, you get to really see what reckoning with that looks like, for a family just like yours, and Laura and Mike. So without further ado, I'm gonna dive into this conversation, and if it resonates with you, and if you really feel like you are ready to stop feeling helpless, stop feeling powerless, stop feeling all the volatility and do or die - let's do the work it takes to be on the other side, having so many more tools, feeling like you have a united front, you're on the same page and have way better management of your composure and capacity overall. Let's talk. Find those links in the show notes. Go ahead and watch that masterclass with your partner or have your partner listen to this and see if it resonates with them as well and then we can go ahead and talk more. Okay, so here we go. Here is my conversation with Laura and Mike.

Danielle Bettmann  6:25  
Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann. And on today's episode, I am joined by previous clients of my program, Laura and Mike, thank you guys so much for being here. It is such a huge compliment. It means so much to me and it's super fun too because we actually got to meet in real life just a couple of weeks ago, which is really rare doing virtual work with people from everywhere. So I'm excited to see you again.

Laura  6:50  
Thank you so much. Thrilled to be here. Thank you for inviting us.

Mike  6:53  
Yeah, we're really happy to do it.

Danielle Bettmann  6:56  
I so appreciate it and I know it is kind of a whole thing with technology, and it can be uncomfortable. So we'll just pretend it's just us and we're just recapping. So for those that don't know you, give us a quick update on who's in your family? What are you guys up to these days? What is your flavor of family?

Laura  7:17  
Well, Mike and I met in college, although we didn't date for many years. After that, we were reconnected through a mutual friend and hit it off. We were long distance for the first two years of our relationship and then he moved to Minneapolis where I live and we started our life together. We have an eight year old daughter, a five year old son and a seven month old daughter. We spend a lot of time together. We're all very close, but we have a lot of personalities in our family.

Mike  7:51  
Yeah, and we also both work full time and want to try to at least have a little bit of a personal life outside of that as well. So yeah, it's a lot to manage. 

Danielle Bettmann  8:06  
Yes. And what do you guys do professionally?

Laura  8:08  
I'm an attorney.

Mike  8:09  
I am a web developer.

Danielle Bettmann  8:12  
Okay, awesome. Give us a quick glimpse into your kids personalities. 

Mike  8:16  
Well, our eight year old is very strong personality. She is the oldest and definitely wants to lead the pack and lead the charge and all of the things that we do has a lot of opinions. Our second child is five and he also is strong-willed, but definitely since he's the second child is usually forced to do the things that his big sister wants to do. And the baby, it's hard to tell, you know, too soon. She's just started making noises. So yeah, it's really hard to say. 

Laura  8:57  
But you can tell - it's funny to see her personality develop because she really likes to get her siblings attention. She's only seven months old, but she's constantly trying to make them laugh and she is not afraid to use her voice when she wants to be acknowledged or heard. So I think it's safe to say even though we're still figuring her out that we have three strong personalities and she's gonna hold her own.

Danielle Bettmann  9:27  
We love that for her. So just to make sure we have the human element as well,  I always like to prequalify all of my guests I have on Failing Motherhood. So have you ever felt like you were failing parenting?

Laura  9:40  
Oh, for sure.

Mike  9:41  
Almost every day.

Danielle Bettmann  9:44  
Then you're part of the club. You're my people.

Laura  9:46  

Danielle Bettmann  9:47  
So let's go back. I know you can't remember what you had for dinner last night and you know you're up at all hours of the night right now. So, we were just recapping how our memories are hazy, but if you can go back to what you remember, from 3, 6, 9 months ago, how would you describe how parenting felt or what your kind of overall parenting approach was at the time?

Laura  10:11  
Well, six months ago, we had a one month old. But even prior to that, we had been feeling stretched very thin. As Mike mentioned, our eight year old is very, very strong willed, but she can also be really volatile and quick to anger. She's brilliant and really funny, and really wants what she wants, but I think she's a person who really wanted or craves control and autonomy. When you're seven as she was at the time, that can kind of bump up against the reality of safety and family dynamics and all of that.  So, we were having a lot of kind of frustrations with her volatility and then our five year old at that time, had just changed preschool, had a new little sister and had recently become a middle child.  He was expressing a lot of his frustrations through physical aggression, biting, and a lot of not listening, the both of them just completely ignoring us or blocking that we had asked them to do something and just refusing to do it. We were struggling with how to communicate with them in an effective way and I think it caused a lot of tension in our relationship. Because even though Mike and I communicate really well and get along really well, we genuinely enjoy each other's company - we were not aligned in how to deal with behavioral issues. It just caused a lot of tension for us. I often felt like Mike was too quick to anger or wasn't handling things in the way that I felt was the right way to handle them. Then I think, you know, I don't want to speak for you, Mike, but there was some resentment, like, neither of us were coming from a place of, of knowledge or learning on this subject, we were both just kind of figuring it out as we went along.  We really felt like we needed some support and some common ground to navigate this stuff in a healthier and more effective way.

Mike  12:19  
Yeah, I definitely agree with that, I'd say in terms of us, it's hard to say like what our parenting style is, because we didn't, we'd never ascribe to a particular school of parenting or something like that. It's more just that we didn't have a framework, and we would kind of butt heads about how to deal with certain situations. You know, I think a lot of that was just a reaction to like the stress of not having a plan or not having a system or a lens through which to view how to handle these things that would arise on a day to day basis.

Laura  12:57  
I think at one point, I don't even remember what the particular catalyst was. But there was just an evening, I think that was really just a lot of fighting and power struggles and very volatile and I remember sitting on the couch with Mike after we had gotten all the kids to bed, and I just started looking for resources looking for something and I stumbled upon Danielle's website. I looked at the website, and I looked at the first few minutes of the masterclass and I said, Mike, will you watch this with me? And then we can decide if this feels right, and he agreed. So we just sat down one evening and watched the masterclass that first offering on the website and it connected to both of us, you know, I think I went into it kind of feeling like, my way was more effective, or I knew more what we should do than Mike did. But watching that masterclass was really eye opening for me as well, because I realized that some of the strategies I was deploying, maybe were kind of kicking the can down the road in terms of getting the results I wanted in the short term, but long term, an example would be, like proposing incentives or negotiating all of the time about what we were going to do. It was helpful for me to recognize that we both had some real learning to do to come up with a better plan.

Danielle Bettmann  14:18  
Yeah, you're not alone in that at all, for sure. What were the things that you did know that were important to you, as parents, or when you imagine being parents? What were some of those things where you're like, this is kind of our thread of integrity, and there's a gap between kind of where we thought we'd be or where we want to be and how we're currently showing it.

Mike  14:43  
I'm not sure I ever really pictured how I thought I would be as a parent, to be honest, like before becoming a parent. I mean, I know a lot of people probably do but just for me, it was not something that I put a lot of like mental energy into, but I definitely feel there is sometimes when you're in the moment with your children, and things are not going well and it can feel really stressful and you just kind of feel like, I'm not doing this right, you know, there's something missing here, and I know that I need to make a change. I think, definitely, we're both feeling that at different times and yeah, just seemed like the right thing to do to kind of take a class or we could both get on the same page and figure out how to do this together.

Laura  15:33  
Yeah, for me, I think, you know, I'm not someone who's naturally very quick to anger, and the degree of volatility in our household did not meet my desires for, for how my family life would look, or what my parenting journey would look like. You know, I felt like we were always kind of on the edge of a blow up or always sort of navigating a potential screaming session, whether it was the kid screaming, or us screaming at them. I don't like that, you know, I want to be able to talk through issues. I also want to be able to get out the door when we need to get out the door. And the fact that every, maybe not every bit, but enough of our sort of like day to day and necessity things were being consumed by potential conflict was really hard for me and I just wanted a better way to talk to my kids and have them hear me. I also don't want to be someone who's constantly saying no, you know, I wanted to figure out a more natural way to set up a dynamic where we were getting done what needed to get done, doing what needed to happen, not having to do so much management all the time, you know, because I think part of the problem is that we were caught in this dynamic where it was like already adversarial. So our strong-willed firstborn, she wants to get out the door earlier, too but when you both come to the moment, you're already sort of like in a conflict mode, because you know that every day getting out the door is a fight, then everyone starts off a little prickly, and it's so much harder to do what needs to be done. So I think we needed to do some resetting of our approach in order to like to get her to a point where she could come downstairs in the morning and not be gearing up for a fight. Just so we could all kind of reframe.

Mike  17:29  
Yeah, I mean, I think that volatility, it's not fun to live through. And also, it takes so much energy, and it leaves you with less energy to do the other things you want to do, you know, to have fun with your kids and to enjoy each other's company.

Laura  17:45  
It's not fun for them, either. They're reacting that way because they don't have the tools to react differently when they're stressed, or when things aren't going the way they want them to. So I think really realizing the only way this is going to change is if Mike and I change - that will set the standard, even if the kids don't change at all, even if they keep doing what they're doing. We have the power and in fact, are the only people that can reset the dynamic going into each day.

Danielle Bettmann  18:18  
Yes, yes, that's a powerful realization in and of itself. And you know, sometimes it takes a little bit to kind of even get to that point, because you're working by process of elimination of trying to figure out what is wrong? What are we missing? What is happening here? Why is it so much harder than I thought it was gonna be? Or why are we walking on eggshells? Why is it that everything is a big deal? Why can't we just say no and move on, you know, and just, it's not? And you maybe wait with time, surely it'll get better and it doesn't. And here we are.

Laura  18:55  
I think the point at which we finally sought you out was when we got to the point where we just felt so powerless and so dis-empowered in our own house. Like we didn't know how to change the dynamic, but we knew the dynamic was not working. You know, it's just not a nice way to live - to feel totally dis-empowered about how things happen in your life each day. And when I think we could acknowledge that then you can also think a little more compassionately about what your kids are going through, because we felt like we had no control and we had so much more control than they did over how everything went in our house.

Danielle Bettmann  19:33  
Yeah, great point. You can only imagine the powerlessness that they might feel in some moments. It's gotta be really hard, but hard to empathize with to when you're feeling right down there with them. So as you were having these conversations and doing that Googling, did you have any hesitations that may have stopped you because I know you were in maternity leave at the time. So what did that practically look like as you made the decision to move forward?

Laura  20:05  
Well, I think money is always a hesitation not knowing if something's going to be effective or not, but still kind of committing money. Time really is a huge issue for us. We have so little time and I think that anytime we had talked previously about doing some sort of class, we would say, well, when are we going to do this? We, we don't even have time to get the amount of sleep that we need. We barely have time to eat meals. How are we going to carve out space for something else?

Mike  20:36  
Yeah and I think I just pretty recently started a new job and was worried, you know, like, are they going to be upset that I'm taking time during the workday to like, do a parenting thing? I mean, it turned out they were totally fine with it. But I don't know, there's a lot of roadblocks, you can throw up in your way when you're nervous about something instead of just going for it. 

Danielle Bettmann  21:01  
Yeah. No, you're so right. It's all that perception of either confirmation bias of you know, it's not the right time, because or the opposite. This is the right time, because and, you know, using almost the same thing to go either way. So looking back, was it the right time?

Laura  21:23  
Yeah, I think anytime we had done, it would have been the right time. I mean, for me, we went back and forth. I am thinking about your point, Danielle, but like, you can have the same piece of feedback, and it can support either position you want to take, you know, at the time, I was on maternity leave, so it made sense, because my job is really demanding. There were more days of the class I would have had to have missed had I been working at that time. So it was helpful for me to do it during maternity leave. But also we had a newborn and our lives were were so sort of unpredictable. There wasn't really a schedule we were following. Things felt really kind of frenetic and messy and I remember Mike saying maybe this isn't the right time to do this, because we have all this other stuff going on. 

Mike  22:08  
Which is what I say about everything.

Laura  22:13  
Actually, that's funny you say that because this is a constant thing in our relationship where I say we should do this thing and Mike says let's wait a year. And I'll say, No, we have to do it now and then time negotiations, are always involved.

Mike  22:27  
Yeah, that's valid.

Laura  22:31  
But with something like this, I mean, really, like the time that you're in is the time to do it. Because the time that you're in, if you're seeking out the support, you need the support. And if you need the support, you need it. Now there's no wrong time to make your family work better.

Danielle Bettmann  22:48  
Right. And I know your kids were going through a lot of transitions, at the same time, whether that was babysitter or different after school program or a new school, or you know, this was changing with mom's work schedule, and then she went back to work. And then there was all these other things happening at the same time when you're sleep deprived, and, you know, kids are adjusting to a new sibling still, and all of that. And you could definitely use that to say, let's get our feet underneath us again, then we'll take on something else. Or what you ended up doing was, this is even more of a reason to get the help now, so that we can navigate these transitions with support. Then you had kind of prescriptions for each one of those moments as you went along. 

Laura  23:32  
Yeah, I think ultimately, we just realized, like what we're doing is not working. This is not working. Why don't we find something that works better? And then all the other hard stuff will be easier or at least mitigated by just trying to function better together.

Mike  23:49  
Yeah, that was the hope. And I feel like it panned out pretty well. Honestly. I mean, still a work in progress. Yeah, everything's still hard, but it seems more manageable. Yeah. I don't really know why, technically, but yeah, I feel happy that we did it when we did it. We probably should have done it sooner. Oddly, but that's okay.

Danielle Bettmann  24:15  
Like I said, now's better than never, for sure. How would you describe Wholeheartedly Calm being inside of it to someone who's never heard of it?

Mike  24:26  
I mean, it's a community, and it's also a class. So there is the class curriculum that you go through, which I felt like Danielle, you did a great job with making it a manageable amount of work and also have it be stuff that you can also kind of do as you go and kind of come back and reference later with like the workbook and everything. There's a lot of materials that we get to kind of outline the process and then the community aspect I think is great because it gives you a chance to kind of talk to other parents who are going through similar things that you are, and commiserate with them and, you know, try to help each other out.

Laura  25:10  
Yeah, the curriculum provides the framework. You know, I think for us, it was really helpful as we went. First of all, we went through the program together. So even though we were listening to the modules or reading the materials separately, we would try to talk about them each week. And it gave us a common vocabulary for identifying the problems that we were having and figuring out more effective strategies for communicating with our kids and with each other, signaling to each other, that we were kind of nearing the end of our rope on a particular issue or whatever. I mean, it just gave us a common language. So that framework was really essential. And then the community aspect of it gave us a forum for actually thinking about applying those tools in real terms. And not only in the context of our lives, but looking at our other community members who maybe had kids who are older, or we're dealing with issues that we hadn't yet confronted, but we're going to, and understanding sort of how they applied these tools in their lives was really critical. And like Mike said, just the solidarity of, you know, I think having a strong willed child, I mean, so many people do, it's a beautiful thing to have a strong willed child. We always said, our kids are going to be so great as adults, the things that make them so great as adults make them really hard to parent when they're young. But you know, it can feel really isolating sometimes, especially when you see other parents interacting with kids who are really well behaved or, you know, your kids, friends come over, and they just have different dynamic, but having a community of people who also had brilliant, interesting, charismatic, strong-willed kids that we're giving them hell helped us to feel less isolated.

Mike  26:53  
Definitely. I think also, there are a lot of people strong-willed is gotta be a spectrum, right? So, you know, all kids are tough in some ways, but I think a lot of people just don't really talk about it unless you get to know them really well, like talk about what they struggle with, it's not, you know, maybe it's not considered play conversation or something, or people want to project this image of themselves that is more put together than they actually are. But I don't know, for me, it's like really nice to be able to just get real with other parents about what they're struggling with, because I think we all have struggles.

Laura  26:53  
Well, and having a forum, you know, I have a lot of close friends that we talk about our kids, we talk about our lives and our challenges and I  felt like Mike's friends didn't do that as much. Mike has a lot of close friends too, but when they get together, they're talking about other stuff. They're not talking about their kids. And so I felt like another point of tension between us when we were, you know, prior to seeking out support was that I just felt like Mike didn't have a lot of perspective about the stuff our kids were going through. So for him, it felt so hard when they were being really challenging because it felt abnormal or felt like an anomaly. For me, I said, I felt like oh, I have three friends whose kids have gone through the same thing, but having a space where there were dads there too and the whole point was to talk about our kids and the challenging issues with our kids and to recognize the ways that dads experienced these challenges differently or how it can impact relationships. I think, you know, it was really illuminating for me to see that and I think it was valuable part of the community.

Danielle Bettmann  28:34  
Definitely. Yeah, no, that's rare, you know, you're not going to have the same new seeds, the same friend, you know, group chats, the same type of exposure to that perspective, that you need to kind of address the fears that you might have, or like the worst case scenarios that you're trying to prevent in your kids. And everyday, we're kind of just taking this information in and trying to make the best decisions we can from them. And we don't know what we don't know. And if we only know, one other hard kid, and my kid isn't as bad as their kid, or my kid is so much worse than their kid. You know, you're gonna make a lot of assumptions that might not be super helpful, or healthier, accurate, especially if the other partner is not seeing that at all.

Mike  28:36  
Yeah, I really think that's true. Yeah, I think you can make some bad assumptions that affect the way you interact with your children and it's important to try to avoid that. For sure.

Danielle Bettmann  29:37  
Yeah, and let's not, you know, give the perception that we're just bashing on our kids all together. Yeah, you know, like, oh, I had it worse. I had it even worse. You know, that's not what the community is doing. We're just able to really bring the most raw parts of our heart to a safe place where we can kind of reckon with it in real time.

Laura  30:02  
Right, because everyone's there because they love their kids so much that they're trying to figure out how to interact with them in a in a way that is more loving and more effective and honors the complicated and individual and strong-willed people that they are, you know. Everyone's there because they love their kids, and they want to be better parents. So being able to be honest about our challenges, and the things that we struggle with, in a supportive community serves that goal - gets us closer to it.

Danielle Bettmann  30:35  
Right, the understanding of the level of assumptions you come in with, knowing about the other families in that room, really creates that foundation for those kind of breakthrough gems and, you know, helpful conversations. Two weeks ago, in the current group, you know, you weren't there anymore, but we were talking about, well, why do I have to put all this effort in when my parents didn't? Why is it so important for me to like, stay calm, and be patient and, you know, be kind to their emotions. And near the end, this parent felt safe to be like, help me out here. I just really want like, I'm having some, some hard limitations around this. And we ended up having the best conversation, just validating our own struggles with kind of the unfairness of it all, the difficulty of it all, you know, and just how many big feelings come up in us, let alone you know, having to deal with all of those and remember what to do with our kids and held space for theirs. And, you know, understanding what's changed in the world.  It was just a really, really cool conversation I can't imagine happening anywhere else with this level of like, dedication and commitment to the process that these other families are coming in with. It's so cool. 

Mike  31:59  
Yeah, it's really cool.

Laura  32:00  
I remember when we were in the program, we got into a really great conversation about anger, and losing our cool with our kids in a way that is really hard to talk about with other people. I mean, there's a lot of shame involved in that, of course. Nobody wants to be that parent, but everybody is that parent sometimes. And to be able to talk to other people, honestly, about times when we had things we were angry about just in general or times that we had not brought our best selves to the table in interacting with our kids was really supportive and just really beneficial, I think.

Danielle Bettmann  32:44  
Here's the deal. If your child is sensitive and smart, yet loses it, is clingy or aggressive with you at home, they can go 0 to 60 over the smallest things like when they just don't get their way. Nothing changes their mind, and they can't seem to get over it. And you know what you're doing isn't working, and siblings are starting to suffer. You could go to therapy yourself, and take your child to therapy and follow all the experts and ask your family and friends for advice, and take a course and set up a calm down corner and read all the parenting books and still feel defeated. It's time. It's time to learn the missing pieces of invaluable insight about their temperament that unlocks compassion in you and understanding of how to work with the way they're wired. It's time to communicate in new ways, like a hostage negotiator to get through to them and cultivate cooperation with confidence, and it's time to eliminate the behaviors that are working to gain control and attention at their root, rather than playing Whack-a-Mole. Calm and Confident the Masterclass is for you. There you will master the kind and firm approach your strong willed child needs without crushing their spirit or walking on eggshells. In this free training, I share the four critical kind and firm scripts that unlock cooperation in every situation, how to eliminate behaviors at the root and the path to solidifying the open and honest relationship that you want to have with your child down the road. So go to To access this exclusive On Demand training immediately. That's That link will be in the show notes.

Danielle Bettmann  34:44  
So now that you're on the other side, parenting is still hard, if you're doing it right. If you're trying to be intentional or mindful at all, then you know that boundaries are still gonna be there. But what has changed from 9 to 6 months ago, 3 months ago to now?

Mike  35:02  
I think our relationship has changed because now we have, like a common vocabulary and common lens to look at this through. And I think, honestly, maybe that's been the biggest difference is just that we're really on the same page about it, about how we want to parent our kids. And now we should be trying to handle any situation.

Laura  35:25  
Yeah, I think you're right. I mean, we're certainly better at supporting each other and recognizing that our different reactions to our kids behavior is not something that puts us at odds with each other. It's something that we understand a little better now, because we've devoted the time to thinking about it and talking about it a lot. And so, the moments where we need someone to show up for us, or we need to show up for each other, it just is more streamlined than it used to be because we know what we need, we know when the other person comes to a situation where things are tense, that we're not coming to kind of criticize or take over. We're coming to offer support, and to really be a team in our approach with our kids. I remember, when we were midway through the program, there was a family that was graduating, and that they were asked a question about, what they had learned. And they said, "You're the person that's going to change in this process, it's not your kid, your kids are going to keep doing the same stuff they always do, you're gonna be the one that's different at the end." And that really resonated for me. And it's very true. But we recognize that our changes, the ways that we kind of shift the dynamic or shift our reaction when things are getting hard, can change the whole situation. I mean, they can just totally redirect how our family ecosystem function. Things are still hard,  but we kind of approach them with a little more patience, usually and with a better set of our own resources and with a much broader set of skills than we had before.

Danielle Bettmann  37:10  
Yeah, and I know you mentioned volatility a lot at the beginning, what has shifted on that realm?

Mike  37:16  
Well, I mean, there's still volatile moments for sure, emotions still happen. So I think, similar to what Laura said, it's just more about the way that we react to it, that has changed. And so I think there's ways that you can react to it, that make it kind of not throw more fuel on the fire, you know, just kind of like, you're they're weathering it, or you're trying to figure out a way to cope that will, you know, kind of quiet the situation down. But I think that, you know, in general, it's more just, you learn not to just accept it in a way, you know, there's a certain amount you can't change. Just knowing that this is how kids are, and this isn't abnormal.

Danielle Bettmann  38:03  
You don't need to like, yeah, hit the hit the fire alarm on the wall and run out screaming with your hair on fire.

Laura  38:08  
Yeah, exactly. And we don't need to match the energy. You know, I think we've recognized that. Just because someone's losing their mind doesn't mean that we need to go into it with that same sense of urgency or intensity.

Mike  38:23  
Yeah, I think urgency is like, a running thing for me like a running theme is just, I feel like that the urgency is a big part of what pushes me to react in a certain way, that is not the way I want to be reacting, or just the idea of having a time limit is very stressful for me. I feel like kind of letting go some of that urgency and realizing that this is not actually urgent, you have time is really, really helpful.

Laura  38:54  
Yeah, through the process, we recognize a lot of our own triggers, you know, there's a lot of self reflection, what are the things that make you anxious, or that make you uncomfortable in parenting. Our daughter, when she would really flip out, our eldest, she would get really mean, volatile and my instinct was, I don't want to be around you right now. But then that would trigger in her this sense of, oh, my gosh, they're leaving, and then she would get really clingy and I realized that sense of clinging, like someone physically clinging to me, was very triggering for me. And then I felt trapped. And it was just, it just kind of spiraled into a, an unhelpful dynamic that didn't feel good for anybody. So, you know, I realized that there were some things I needed to do on the front end when I saw things moving in that direction. To say to her, like, hey, I really love you. I'm going to be back. I know that you're having a hard time, but I just need a minute. I just need one minute. I'm not leaving you. You know, I wouldn't just try to bolt I would kind of set things up for her so that she knew that I was coming back I just needed a second. You know, when I did some of that work on the front end, it got easier for her to just let me go and take the time I needed so that I didn't feel so overwhelmed emotionally in those moments. And I think, you know, in reflecting on ourselves, we also reflected on our kids and thinking about who they really are and what they need and how those personality traits might manifest in volatile ways when they weren't kind of having some of their core desires or needs met, you know, and so for our oldest, she really has a need for autonomy, she wants to be independent, she wants to do things. So we started thinking about, like, dinner time was a real trigger point, because nobody would eat anything, and everyone would complain, and then everyone was hungry, and it was just a mess. And so we got her a kids safe knife, so she could help prepare food at dinnertime. And then we started asking our kids well, do you want to help with the meal plan? Do you want to go grocery shopping, little things like that, that we had the foresight to do ahead of time, actually really helped those trigger points like dinnertime, because we sort of set it up a little differently, so that their needs for autonomy or their needs for independent decision making were already sort of being fulfilled before the choke point. 

Danielle Bettmann  41:27  
That's huge.

Mike  41:28  
Yeah and I think a lot of times they choose not to, like, help with dinner or go grocery shopping, but it somehow still takes the volatility out, because they've made that choice. They've been presented with an opportunity and they've made a choice, and just like the act of making a choice gives you makes you feel like you have more control. It's interesting. So the stuff that you teach in the course, I feel like it's definitely like sort of Jedi mind trick type stuff. It's like, you know, it's just the vocabulary that you use, like wording something one way versus another can actually be really impactful in a way that's almost hard to comprehend. Like, at least for for me.

Laura  42:10  
But there's also so many examples that make it easier to comprehend, like thinking about interacting with a boss. If a boss asked me to do something in a demanding way, versus hey, we have this need, do you think you could contribute whatever, of course, I'm going to react more positively to the version in which someone is respecting me and recognizing that I can choose to say yes or no, and framing things in a way that recognizes that I contribute to the community in a particular way, instead of just making a demand, which is so often I think, when we're not being self critical, how we interact with our kids, something needs to be done. We tell them to do it. I mean, I think a lot of people would push back against that if it was sort of how they were always interacting with an authority figure. Right?

Danielle Bettmann  43:06  
Yeah. There's something innate in all of us that just doesn't like being told what to do. The end. Yeah.

Laura  43:13  
I think Danielle, you also said examples of, you know, if your partner say, laundry needs to get folded, fold laundry, like, No, I do what I want to do.

Danielle Bettmann  43:23  
Right? I already had my whole night plan. No.

Laura  43:27  
Kids have lives. They have lives and plans and expectations. So they're people so we have to interact with them as as whole people.

Mike  43:37  
Yeah, the tough part is they're just, they're not real people yet, but they're becoming real people. But you need to treat them as real people, even though they can't, you know, sometimes reciprocate that because their brains aren't developed yet. So that's, I think the tough part about this is, yeah, it's hard to treat people with respect when they consistently are disrespectful. Or, you know, maybe not disrespectful. But, yeah, it's not always a two way street. But you gotta like keep trying.

Danielle Bettmann  44:08  
You bring up a super valuable point that even my husband brings up from time to time, which is, we would not take the toxicity of almost like the emotional abuse we get from our kids from any other relationship, ya know, and there's a big part of our own defense mechanism that comes up when we're like, I don't deserve to be treated like this. You know, like, yeah, why would I stay in the same room as you? Why would I like want to be the bigger person in this situation? Because no one wants to just like, push all that down and be like, it's fine. You know, I'm a punching bag. I'm a doormat. Like that's really unhealthy on on a very objective level. So there is an element of really understanding. Am I being a pushover, permissive parent, and nobody's listening to me and I'm just supposed to swallow that and say, you know, it's fine. Or is the way that I'm kind of modelling a foundation, what's best for them at their developmentally appropriate level. And yet, it's okay that I lose it sometimes and have my own needs and have a limited capacity in this time, like, knowing which is which, sooner than later or even in hindsight, is critical for your mental health, I think as a parent.

Laura  45:29  
And your confidence, you know, and I think that's me, we talked about a lot in the course that if you know something to be right for your child, you know that this is the right thing for them to do, you can lay that boundary with confidence. You can say, in our family, we don't do this, or, you know, we're not going to do this right now, here's all the choices you have around that thing. But here's the line. And being able to make that declaration or set those boundaries with confidence is very empowering for you, and also empowering for your kids, because it sets a kind of safe structure that they can depend on, and gives them autonomy within the structure. I think there's so often this misconception, because we don't necessarily all have kind of a strong foundation for how we want to parent. There's this misconception that it's either sort of this traditional strict, you do this, because I say you do this, or it's really permissive. It's very gentle, everything is focused on the kids emotional needs and validation. And that sort of, if they cry, I failed, right? Like, there's those two poles. And neither, I don't want to live in either of those worlds personally.  I think this course and the framework that you developed was so helpful for us because it gave us more confidence to set boundaries and be clear about what we expected in our family, but also made our kids feel more respected. So everyone's kind of coming to the table in a spirit of teamwork. And there's nothing like overly permissive about it, the expectation is that everyone show up and in a good way, and recognizing that not everyone can do that all the time. We just interact more pleasantly together, everyone's kind of respected and acknowledged. And part of that is being accountable.

Danielle Bettmann  47:22  
Yeah, that was a really great way of kind of illustrating what that looks like at your house for others to kind of conceptualize, because you're right, if you don't come in, with that foundation of, this is where I know I'm too hot. This is how I know I'm too cold. This is you know what just right looks like, you could genuinely have no idea where you're at on that scale and just keep kind of jumping to extremes or haphazardly throwing spaghetti at a wall on a day to day basis, because of a tip you saw once from somewhere. And then genuinely, it's becoming very unpredictable for your kids. They don't know which you they're gonna get on a daily basis, or how patient you're going to be or what's going to tip you off. You don't know what's gonna throw them off, because they're struggling for control or really structure understanding what day to day is even the norm around here. You know, I'm just trying to figure it out, right? I'm new to this world.

Laura  48:20  
Yeah, I mean, we're all new to the world of parenting when we join it, right? I mean, we both had excellent parents. We grew up feeling loved and respected and we had great role models. We're very, very fortunate for that and we still started parenting and didn't know what the hell we were doing. 

Mike  48:37  
Yeah, I mean, we didn't really read any books or anything. Like, really, we're just winging it, you know?

Danielle Bettmann  48:47  
Yeah, no, that's most of us. Yeah, for sure. So for those maybe new to the podcast, new to me on this journey, right alongside you guys. What other takeaways haven't we mentioned that, you know, you would have loved to kind of figure out sooner than later?

Mike  49:04  
I think one of the most impactful things that I keep coming back to are those analogies that you would do and I don't remember which module it was in, but you would give these grand analogies about you know, imagine if you spoke the way you're speaking to your children to your partner, and like how, you know, how do you think that would go over? And those kinds of analogies, like it seems so simple, it's like, almost ridiculous. But then, when you actually think about, you're like, wow, yeah, if someone talked to me the way that I'm talking to my kid, I would not be, I would not be okay with it. You know, and obviously, that's not always avoidable. Sometimes you lose your temper and you are short with your family. And I think that goes for everybody in the family. But I think just trying to be more mindful about how you're being perceived is like really helpful.

Danielle Bettmann  49:08  
Kind of like the the power of of tone, and just language and kind of the semantics in general of just those small, how powerful those small tweaks can be.

Mike  50:07  
Yeah, because we're leading a team of people, right? I mean, that's what we're essentially doing is we're trying to, you know, the kids are looking to us for guidance, even though it seems like they're not.

Danielle Bettmann  50:22  
Seems like it's a mutiny, and they're all going in the opposite direction.

Laura  50:28  
Yeah, I was just thinking about, you know, every situation that we show up to whether it's with our kids or someone else, we play at least a 50% role in that situation, generally, you know, so if we can change how we react or be more mindful of, of ourselves in those moments, that's going to shape the trajectory of the situation. And I think that was a huge thing for both of us in the course, was giving us a different kind of roadmap for how to handle certain situations. So we could kind of show up a little more prepared, but also to be self critical of our own emotional reactions and understand ourselves and our kids a little better. That's hard work, it's hard too, it's uncomfortable to look at yourself. But when you recognize that any situation you're in, you're the one showing up to it and if you can change your way of being in it, it's going to change the course of the encounter. It's really empowering. Ultimately, when we don't do that work, we oftentimes take that on our kids, you know, they, they deal with the consequences of it. And when we do the work, when we are self critical, and we develop the skills, and we work on it, we're giving them an example of how to do that in their adult lives. I think I said this on the course, you know, Mike is quicker to anger than I am. And so is our daughter,  our eldest child. I feel like we talked to her, we talked to both of them, but she's a little older, we talked to her more about the course and what we're doing, what we're learning, and she was really interested in it. But I think, you know, it was way more meaningful for her to watch Mike go through the process of like developing an awareness of of anger and skills to deal with being quick to anger than it would have been for her to just to watch me go through it because she has that same temperament. And so she got a great example of someone struggling with and working on and finding tools to deal with something that she also struggles with. Watching you do it, Mike, which is hugely valuable.

Danielle Bettmann  52:44  
That's so powerful, it says so much. And you can't, you can't fake that. And you probably couldn't have gotten that same level of intensity, or seriousness or impact, without really taking it on and saying like, alright, now or never, let's do this. Let's do it hard and fast.

Mike  53:06  
Just go for it, man. Just go.

Danielle Bettmann  53:08  
Yeah, that's really cool that she was at that influential  age as well, where you can just kind of talk about what you're doing out loud. And it creates so much of like, a magnetic sense of authenticity in your leadership by being able to be vulnerable, and being able to be honest and make apologies and being able to be real about - yeah, this is still really hard for me, and I missed it. I'm gonna keep trying. Here's my new tactic. Hold me to it, you know, that level of accountability of talking it through with her? That's gonna sit with her? For sure. More than a good lecture? Right?

Laura  53:45  
I mean, they don't care what we say. Especially if what we say and what we do or not aligned, they will always look at what we do over what we say. If, you know, hopefully, some of the things that we say make an impact on them. But they're only really going to make an impact on them if they're aligned with how we show up in the world.

Danielle Bettmann  54:03  
Wow, yeah. Mic drop. So truly, that's a really, I think, impactful kind of thing to sit with and leads us to kind of a last question. The last question I use to kind of sum up all the interviews, so I'll ask you that same one I ask everybody else to close up our time. How are you the parents your kids need?

Mike  54:26  
I think I'm confident and loving. 

Laura  54:31  
That's such a big question, Danielle. I mean, it's a great question and I've listened to your podcast enough that I really should have anticipated it more than I did. 

Danielle Bettmann  54:41  
Everybody's a little caught off guard. I know.

Laura  54:45  
I think I'm the parent my kids need because I see them for all of who they are. The all of the complexity and complication and beauty they bring to the table. I don't need them to be anything other than who they are, and I want to give them an example of love that exceeds and transcends anybody else's expectations of them.

Danielle Bettmann  55:12  
Yeah, that's what they need. They're lucky to have you guys.

Laura  55:16  
We're lucky to have you.

Danielle Bettmann  55:21  
Of course, no, thank you for trusting me. Thank you for investing in yourselves, knowing that you are worthy of that level of support. And you know, your kids are so much benefited from it. You know, you can see that already. But that impact is going to continue to build momentum all the years to come. 

Laura  55:39  
Yeah, we actually have been speaking a lot lately about how impressed we are with our kids recently, they've just, you know, they show up, they identify a challenge or a problem in their lives, and they are working through how to handle it in a way that they're proud of. They're really capable, and going through this process, has made us enjoy our experience as a family so much more, and because we've kind of cut out a lot of the conflict points, or at least figured out how to navigate them more fluidly- we just get to enjoy them a lot more and they enjoy being enjoyed. 

Danielle Bettmann  56:21  
Yeah, who wouldn't?

Laura  56:22  
Yeah, much more fun together.

Mike  56:25  
I totally agree.

Danielle Bettmann  56:26  
I love that for you guys. I love that. But I'm so glad you have, you know, many more days ahead of you with them in your house. But now you are empowered and equipped and more confident and we so appreciate your level of transparency and honesty and being able to share from your real life place of what it looks like in your four walls with your three kids and so good to see you again. I know you're in the graduate community. So I'll just circle back once again. But thanks for taking the time. It really means a lot and it is very appreciated.

Mike  57:00  
Thank you.

Laura  57:01  
Thank you, Danielle.

Danielle Bettmann  57:08  
Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms note they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen -schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.



Tuesday, Sept 27th at 1:00 PM CENTRAL

Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!